MESys opens pellet distribution facility in Massachusetts

By Katie Fletcher | December 06, 2016

Nov. 18 marked the official opening of Maine Energy Systems’ wood pellet distribution facility and heating equipment showroom with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the project site in North Oxford, Massachusetts.

MESys is based in Bethel, Maine, where the company built its first pellet distribution facility. About a year ago, the company began constructing another distribution facility at a location in North Oxford to service its already established customer base around central Massachusetts, as well as provide the opportunity for more customers to receive pellets in the surrounding area.

According to BJ Otten, chief operating officer of the company, the project was built with the intention of expanding the availability of pellet fuel to a marketplace in Massachusetts and supporting the efforts of the commonwealth. “They are certainly promoting wood pellet central heating with their grant programs and clean energy initiatives,” Otten said. “This was a side piece to validate and support that program.”

MESys received a $806,000 grant from the state's Department of Energy Resources’ Renewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program, which Otten said was integral to the project coming together the way it did. “It made it a viable option to expand that far away from our current center of Bethel in Maine,” he said. “We were excited to take part in it, because as the marketplace might not have been well-developed when we started here in Bethel, the first thing we did was build a distribution facility. It’s a way to create a node of what we’re currently doing here in Maine.”

Also, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center deployed a woodstove rebate program for installing central heating woodstove and pellet systems, which closed out this past fall. Otten shared that this program's efforts and now the pellet distribution facility will hopefully help customers make the decision to transition to pellets with confidence. “Biomass heating in general is difficult on a residential level if you don’t have fuel available with the same sort of ease as fossil fuel,” Otten said. “It’s difficult to get people to adopt the technology and transition if they don’t have the confidence that they are going to be able to utilize a delivery network.”

MESys was already serving Massachusetts-based customers with pellet deliveries from Maine. However, the company was limited in the number of people they could serve from their Bethel location. “The addition of a new location centralized in Massachusetts provided the opportunity for people to adopt the technology much easier,” Otten stated.

According to Otten, the facility is currently serving 85 customers, and that number is only going to grow. The company commissioned the system and started operating just before the official ribbon-cutting ceremony mid-November.

Otten estimated that with this facility, they are moving from servicing 20 to 30 customers on a reasonable basis to up to as many as 400 customers. “It really opens up the availability of the product,” Otten added.

Since the average residential home in Massachusetts burns somewhere between 7 and 8 tons per year, at 85 customers, MESys will be distributing around 680 tons of wood pellets out of the North Oxford location. However, this could change depending on the weather and the number of people adopting the technology up to the end of the year. At the site’s capacity of serving 400 customers with bulk pellet deliveries, up to 3,200 tons of wood pellets could be distributed from the facility on an annual basis.

The new site location supports both sides of MESys’ business. The approximately 1,200 square-foot building is a warehouse and showroom with an office. The showroom will display the wood pellet stoves and boilers MESys manufactures. The facility itself will be heated with a 25 kilowatt AutoPellet boiler. The company also plans to offer training sessions, on an at least quarterly basis, for contractors at the location. The pellet distribution side of MESys’ business will be just outside the building, and will include a screening system to screen the fines from the pellets before they are loaded into the company truck and the facility is also equipped with a 100-ton capacity silo.

MESys is currently distributing pellets produced from Lignetics, Energex and New England Wood Pellets, and they’ve had relationships with Corinth Pellets and Athens Wood Pellets in the past. Otten added that they’re open to working with many and all pellet producers.